Archive for the 'Entrees' Category

Creamy Wild Mushroom Penne

I have always been a fan of creamy pasta sauces although the traditional ones made with butter and cream will speed up your tour to the grave.  My vegan version is rich and creamy, loaded with mushrooms and earthy flavor, yet heart friendly.  This recipe starts with the basic concepts of a white sauce;  milk, flour and fat.  Because I am using mushrooms and onions in my sauce, I’m going to thicken it with a slurry at the end of the cooking process rather than a roux at the beginning.

Serves:  6
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:   20 minutes

1 medium onion
8 cloves garlic or more, minced
2 ½ cups wild mushrooms
6 portabella mushroom caps (if you want a steak-like topper to your pasta )
1 tsp dried thyme
3 cups unsweetened rice milk
1/2 cup rice flour
3/4 cup white wine
1.5 cups frozen sweet peas
400 grams quinoa pasta (penne or rigatoni) or other non-wheat pasta

I started by marinating my portabella mushroom caps in some white wine, a little olive oil, a pinch of thyme and salt and pepper.

Finely chop the onion and sauté until translucent in a sauté pan.  Add the minced garlic.

DO NOT BROWN or you will have black bits floating in your sauce!

Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms have almost lost their moisture.

Add the thyme and deglaze the pan with the white wine (adding wine to the pan to incorporate the cooking juices from the onions and mushrooms is known as deglazing!).  Remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes.

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package.  I would normally use quinoa pasta specifically because this sauce is not particularly high in protein and I want to give the dish a protein boost.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any this time, so I used spelt pasta (each serving of the final dish will have about 12 grams of protein with the spelt).  Do not overcook.  When finished, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Julienne a red pepper into strips and saute momentarily.  Add to the mushroom mixture.

In a 2 cup measure, begin to mix the rice flour with a little rice milk.  Pour in a little at a time so that you don’t get any lumps, however the beauty of rice flour is that it’s very soluble.  It won’t clump like other flours.  When you have a consistent paste, fill the 2 cup measure to the top.  This makes up 2 cups of the three cups of rice milk needed.

Add the non-dairy milk and bring the liquid to a slight boil, being careful not to scorch the milk (ie – don’t make sure that it doesn’t boil for several minutes).  Turn the heat down to minimum as soon as it starts to boil, and add the remaining 1 cup of milk.

Stirring constantly, let the sauce cook for another 10-15 minutes or until you can no longer taste flour (you want to cook the flour off).   Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, add the frozen peas and set aside for a few minutes.

Make sure when you add your peas to the sauce, there are not any clumps of frozen peas.  Break them apart before-hand so that they will heat through.  You want your peas to remain crisp and green.   Adding them any sooner than this will overcook them.

Saute the portabella mushrooms.

Mix your pasta together with the sauce  and plate in pasta bowls, topping the pasta with your sautéed portabella mushrooms.

Enjoy with a large glass of pinot noir…


Eggplant Parmesan

Even though I have never been a fan of eggplant, for reason’s unbeknownst to me, I’ve been dying to create an eggplant parmesan recipe (in an animal free form of course).

We have been staying in Victoria this Thanksgiving weekend watching one of the Megans compete in the Royal Victoria Marathon and visiting family.  Tonight I offered to make dinner, and better yet, I got to do it in this kitchen!

What better time to try out a completely “from my head” recipe; for a skeptical, carnivorous audience.  Seconds were had and leftovers are scant.  I think I pulled it off…

Servings:  6
Prep Time:  40 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes

Tomato Sauce:

1 large can whole tomatoes
6 cloves (or more) garlic
4-5 shallots
1 sprig fresh basil
1 tbsp agave nectar (not shown here – I had to use honey as this kitchen was ill equipped!)
salt and pepper to taste

Breaded Eggplant:

4 small, firm eggplants (the more firm, the less seeds)
1-1 1/2 cups brown rice or panko style breadcrumbs  * see note
olive oil for frying
1 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese

Cannellini Bean Filling:

1 398 ml can cannellini beans
salt and pepper to taste

* you can choose to fry the eggplant without any breading at all.  In this case, bring olive oil to temperature in a fry pan as if it were breaded and fry about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Because we were having this in Victoria and I knew there would be no food processor at my fingertips, I processed my cannellini beans in advance.  You can however use a fork or potato masher to blend the beans if you do not have a food processor at your disposal.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finely chop the shallots and garlic.

Saute the shallots over high heat until transparent.

Add the garlic, turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes and mash with a wooden spoon until smooth (I prefer not to use a hand blender or blender in this case as it is nice to have some sort of texture to the sauce).   Cook over low heat about 40 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the eggplant.

Slice the eggplant into slices about 3/8″ thick.

Salt each slice and put in a colander to drain (the bitterness and excess water will come out of the eggplant over a period of about 30 minutes).

Do this with all the eggplant and set aside for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bread the eggplant, chop the fresh basil and add to the tomato sauce.

Rinse the salt from the slices and let drain just a few minutes.  Spread the breadcrumbs or panko on a plate and lightly dredge each eggplant slice in the breading until coated (the coating will stick to the wet eggplant).

Put the breaded slices immediately into a a hot oiled pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Spread the tomato sauce in the bottom of large baking dish (9″ X 13″).  Dollop the bean mixture evenly on top of the tomato sauce.

Place the fried, breaded eggplant on top of the bean mixture (it should be about two layers if you use all the eggplant).

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and cover the dish with tin foil.

Bake in a 375 degree fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the tin foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let settle for about 10 minutes. Serve hot with salad and garlic bread on a ridiculously large table such as this:

Eggplant never tasted so good!